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Poetic History: Archivist documents 50 years of poetic history

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015
Elliot McNally
Elliot McNally’s current assignment: cataloging the editorial and business records of eleven poetry magazine archives.

Last year, the Poetry Collection received a $150,600 grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to catalog and create online finding aids for the editorial and business records of eleven poetry magazine archives.  Representing a wide variety of poets and poetic communities, these magazines include Boss, Buckle”/Buckle &, Chain, Drafting, Fire Exit, First Intensity, Lost & Found Times, Manroot, Osiris, Score and The Wormwood Review.

Work on the project is under way, led by Elliot McNally, Project Archivist.  “I am very excited to be able to help make these collections available to researchers,” says McNally, who faces the daily challenge of processing eclectic materials by many innovative writers.  “I am constantly amazed at the range of work being uncovered,” she adds. “Some of my favorites include the hundreds of Charles Bukowski letters and illustrations sent to Marvin Malone, editor of The Wormwood Review; negatives, mechanicals and cover art documenting the mimeograph production process of Score; and original manuscript submissions from hundreds of poets and artists such as William S. Burroughs, Bernadette Mayer, Fanny and Susan Howe, Robert Creeley, Diane Di Prima and Larry Eigner.”

“One of the most challenging aspects of processing has been preservation,” observes McNally, who worked previously as manuscripts processor at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. “From butane lighters and Play-Doh, to artist books and 3-dimensional concrete poetry, my job
is never boring!”